Cannes on the Mediterranean shore is a delightful city to visit at any time of the year. It's known for its glamour, particularly in May when the annual Cannes Film Festival attracts the greatest film stars in the world. It's a big seaside resort with top hotels but lots of good, sandy and free public beaches. And it's a perfect jumping off point for other towns along this glitzy part of the Côte d'Azur.
Edited by Mary Anne Evans
Few spots better symbolize the glamour of Cannes than La Croisette, the stretch of sidewalk that runs along the shoreline. La Croisette looks out to the Mediterranean on one side and is lined with top palace hotels like the Martinez, the Carlton and the Cannes Intercontinental on the other, all separated by a stately line of palm trees.
There are vendors selling souvenirs, billboards promoting the film festival and upscale shops across the street. Best of all, there are wonderful cafés along the beach and, for a fee, you can rent a sun-lounger and umbrella on one of the private beaches belonging to the hotels and sip an extremely expensive drink a few feet from the water.
During the famous Cannes Film Festival, the stars stretch out on the private beaches, surrounded by the paparazzi.
Cannes Film Festival
Every May, the stars, wannabes and film groupies descend on Cannes for the annual, world famous Film Festival. It turns the otherwise sensible resort into a frenzy of activity with everybody trying to get a glimpse of the action.
It may seem to be an industry event, only for insiders, but there are various ways you can participate, including the truly great outdoor screen on the beach for ordinary mortals to share great movies.
Check out the guide to the Cannes Film Festival for more information on what (and who) to see where.
Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, or convention centre, is a rather ugly modern building at the east end of La Croisette. But it's the venue for all the big events in Cannes, including, naturally, the Cannes Film Festival. Even when the film industry has long since rolled up the red carpet, you can imagine the glitz and glamour here, getting a taste of it looking at the hand prints of celebrities embedded in the flagstones outside the building.
The convention center hosts many events throughout the year including the popular Shopping Festival at Easter.
The Musée de la Castre, is now a museum, housed in the remains of an 11th-century priory in Le Suquet. Its main collection is of musical instruments from around the world. It's also a good place for prints and pictures of old Cannes showing the contrast to today's bustling city.
Go up the tower for a great view over Cannes itself and out to the Isles de Lérins on the horizon.
Shopping in Cannes
One of the major reasons to visit Cannes is to spend money. Besides the shops on La Croisette, there are numerous streets heading north from the street and paralleling La Croisette. There's a shopping mall nearby, and several upscale chain stores (think Gucci, Christian Lacroix and Ferrari) plus local boutiques.
The rues d'Antibes and Meynadier are also good for shopping.
Don't forget the annual Easter Shopping Festival in the Palais des Festivals.
Iles de Lérins islands
The Iles de Lérins islands off the coast of Cannes beckon, just a short 15 minute ferry ride but a world away from the glitzy resort. The two islands are delightful, offering peace and quiet and rocky inlets to enjoy.
Ile-Ste-Marguerite is dominated by its Fort. Walk through the cells and imagine the fate of the Man the Iron Mask, incarcerated here according to the novelist Alexandre Dumas.
Ile St-Honorat is quieter, owned by monks since 410 AD.
More about the fabulous Islands of France
Musée de la Mer
This unique Museum of the Sea is on the Ile Ste-Marguerite and well worth a visit in its own right. Off the shore of Cannes features exhibits are devoted to the prison system and to underwater archeology collections. The museum's highlight is the exhibit devoted to the mysterious Man in the Iron Mask.